Bennett Elementary, a school of about 750 students in Manassas, will pause in-person instruction next week due to a high number of students having tested positive or quarantining due to COVID-19, Superintendent LaTanya McDade announced Friday night.
The school, located near the Prince William County fairgrounds, is the first in Prince William County to go on a temporary pause in in-person learning this school year due to the pandemic.
In a note to parents and the community, McDade said the move is being made at the recommendation of the Prince William Health District "to prevent and stop the spread of COVID-19 at Bennett Elementary."
As of Friday, Oct. 8, Bennett Elementary had 36 positive cases of COVID-19, three probable cases and more than 200 children in quarantine, McDade said in her note.
"It is important to note that quarantine does not equate to illness, and while not all students at Bennett Elementary School are required to quarantine, this step is being taken out of an abundance of caution to ensure the health and safety of all students and staff," McDade wrote.
The Prince William Health District advised that Bennett Elementary take a pause in instruction based on the following considerations:
- the number of cases experienced and their proximity in time to each other;
- the level of spread within the school;
- and the level of student absenteeism due to illness or necessary isolation or quarantine, McDade wrote.
The school will take a "one-week temporary pause." School is not in session on Monday, Oct. 11, due to a teacher workday. McDade's note did not indicate whether instruction would go online next week or what accommodation would be made for students academically.
The numbers of cases and students in quarantine at Bennett Elementary shared by McDade far surpasses the number of students shown to be in quarantine and isolating on the COVID-19 dashboard. The dashboard shows 17 students isolating and 103 in quarantine at Bennett. The reason for the discrepancy was not immediately clear Friday evening.
The Virginia Department of Health identified three outbreaks at Prince William County schools on Friday -- at Potomac High School and Sudley and Yorkshire Elementary Schools.
But Prince William Health District officials said earlier this week there were "multiple" other outbreaks under investigation at local schools.
McDade's note said the cases at Bennett Elementary were thought to be linked to transmission both in the community and the school.
"At this time, there are no other schools in the division that are approaching the threshold that would require a temporary pause of in-person learning," her note said.